By 2050, up to 47% of the Amazon could collapse and disappear

A new release from Nature analyzes potential thresholds that could push the Amazon rainforest to the point of no return. The study, which involved the Higher Scientific Research Council (CSIC), estimates that between 10 and 47% of the Amazon forest could change irreversibly and disappear by 2050. “The main goal was to assess how close or far we are from exceeding safe planetary limits relative to the largest contiguous tropical forest on Earth,” he explains. Encarni MontoyaCSIC researcher in Geosciences Barcelona (GEO3BCN-CSIC) and co-author of the article.

The work, led by Bernardo Flores, from the Federal University of Santa Catalina (Brazil), points out that the possible changes depend on the increase in temperature, the decrease in precipitation, the increase in the dry season, the intensity of the seasonality of rainfall and deforestation. Transfer the Turning point Any of these five factors, directly or indirectly caused by global changes, can cause local and systematic changes in the Amazon.

According to the article, currently the values ​​of Deforestation and degradation of the Amazon forest, which sees cumulative deforestation of 20% as a tipping point. In this case, the research team sets the safe limit at 10%, even though 13% has already been exceeded.

The possible changes depend on the increase in temperature, the decrease in precipitation or the increase in the dry season

Taking global warming models into account, the work shows that the critical threshold for the increase in average temperature on a global scale in this case is 2 °C, setting 1.5 °C as the safe limit for the Amazon forest. In terms of precipitation reduction, the tipping point is 1,000 mm annual precipitation, so 1,800 mm is considered a safe limit.

The article also notes that the deficit is 450mm rain per year in dry season periods. In this case, they set 350 mm as the safe limit. They also propose a limit duration for the dry season, with the critical threshold being eight months and the safe limit being five months.

Very conservative approaches

The study’s research team, consisting of more than 20 professionals from research centers and universities in Europe and America, also focuses on the need to work on improving the integration of Field or experimental data in the simulations. They consider it essential to advance technologically in integrating robust models to simulate different variables that can interact with each other and cause feedbacks and cascading effects.

The approaches presented in this study are very conservative

Bernardo Flores

“The approaches presented in this study are very conservative because it is not known how the various change factors are related to water stress and the intrinsic properties of water Amazon ecosystems They interact with each other and accelerate or slow down the speed of change,” laments Montoya.

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Climatic and social consequences

The disappearance of the Amazon forests would affect the planet’s climate regulation and result in the loss of both biological and cultural diversity on a global scale. “The events in the Amazon, the largest contiguous tropical forest in the world, have and will have impacts on a global scale, including due to its role as a climate regulator,” emphasizes Montoya.

It would also entail the loss of cultural diversity: 47 million people live in the Amazon region 2.2 million indigenous people and local communities belonging to approximately 400 different ethnicities and cultures.

In order to reduce the possible negative consequences and prevent the disappearance of the Amazon, they appeal for local and international responsibility. “In addition to development Recovery policies In order to slow down the degradation and slow down nature conservation at the local level, measures must now be taken at the supranational level and in world politics that aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid or reduce the overexploitation of resources. of course,” explains the GEO3BCN-CSIC researcher.

Protected areas, and particularly areas governed by indigenous peoples, are often better preserved spaces

Encarni Montoya

The publication also emphasizes encouraging the participation of the territories indigenous governance in decision-making as well as in the adoption of traditional practices. According to Montoya, “protected areas, and particularly areas governed by indigenous peoples, are often better preserved spaces.”

This publication is the product of the first scientific report on the Amazon published in the Glasgow COP in November 2021, conducted by the Scientific Panel for the Amazon, a unique scientific initiative funded by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Reference:

Flores et al. Critical transitions in the Amazon forest system. Nature

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